Issue brief |

Why South Africa Should Examine Pharmaceutical Patents

How legislative reform could boost the affordability and accessibility of medicines for South Africans

Should a developing country be satisfied with simply registering patents if they have been granted in a developed country and if basic administrative requirements have been met? Or, instead, should that country insist on a thorough technical or scientific examination of the validity of the claims of every patent application filed? Should a developing country attempt to develop national capacity to examine patent applications, in order to apply patentability criteria that may be nationally appropriate? 

These are the questions that must be answered as South Africa embarks on a national debate on its industrial and IP policy.

This briefing document lays out how South Africa is failing to take advantage of the flexibilities allowed under international rules in their national patent regime and how this is having a significant adverse impact on the affordability and accessibility of medicines for South Africans. It lays out the problems with South Africa's current patent regime, which registers but does not examine patents, and also proposes a solution, the establishment of a patent examination system.